There are some examples in mythology
a. The custom of carrying Kanwar started in the Treta Yuga. Lord Rama had carried the holy Ganges water from Sultanganj in a kanwar and offered to Lord Shiva at Babadham.
b. When the churning of oceans – Samudra Manthan – took place in the month of Shravan, fourteen different types of rubies came out. Thirteen of these were distributed amongst the demons, except Halahal (poison). Lord Shiva drank the Halahal and stored it in his throat.
Hence the name Neelkantha (meaning blue throat) is attributed to Shiva. To reduce the strong effect of poison, Lord Shiva wore the crescent moon on his head. All the Gods thereafter started offering the Ganges water to Lord Shiva to lessen the effect of poison. Since, this happened in the month of Shravan, since then the Shiva devotees offer the Ganges water in this month.
c. According to the Puranas, the daemon king Ravana had brought the Ganges water from Haridwar and offered to Lord Shiva.
Scientific & Spiritual Significance
Shravan is the first month of Chaturmas which is the starting four months of Dakshinayana. In Uttarayana the days are longer and in Dakshinayana the nights are longer. Uttarayana is the period of positive state of the mind and Dakshinayana is the period of negative state of the mind.
In the month of Shravan the mind is most unstable. As per Ayurveda it’s a period of Vata imbalance. Main festivals to control the mind are held in this month stating from Guru Purnima, a day to go to your Guru to learn the ways for managing the negative mind in Chaturmas
Kanwar yatra is a spiritual journey of days, walking on foot, away from the routine stress, covering a long distance with a positive intent in the mind. It purifies the mind and continuous chanting (japa) helps in detoxifying the mind, body and soul. It works on the principle of incubation period for mental detoxification.
In spiritual language attachments, anger, greed, desires and ego are slow poisons representing Halahal of Lord Shiva. One should not drink anger or spit anger but temporarily keep in the
throat and modify it when the opportunity arises. In mythology ‘vish’ is poison and ‘vishay’ is slow poison like negative thoughts. Pouring gangajal to the halahal poison of Shiva indicates that we should calm down all anger or negative thoughts in our life if not routinely at least during the spiritual journeys cum retreats.
The mythology description of Samudra Manthan depicts churning of mind in meditation and subsequent release of negative thoughts. They can only be tackled by the release of positive thoughts (Ganges- a flow of positive thoughts) by the moon (cool mind). In mythology Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh signifies the controllers of start of a work, doing the work and completing the work respectively (creator, organizer and destroyer or winding up). Mahesh or Shiva
therefore is the controller of any work which needs winding up. If any task is not getting completed we worship Lord Shiva for guidance.
The Kanwar way of worship is to take a spiritual break, relax, chant to divert the mind, go away from the stressful situation and on the way ( at har ki pori) you will get Self inspiration and ideas ( a relaxed mind is a creative mind). Collecting ganga Jal from har ki pori signifies collecting those self generated positive creative thoughts and carrying them back to your work place for use in completing the remaining task.
Medically are we all fit to take Kanwar Yatra We must be physically fit to take this much travel or we may end up with joint injuries or a heart attack (in the elderly) if we are not fit from the cardiac point of view.
When we take our car for a long distance we first get its servicing done. Same way we must have a clearance from the doctor before undertaking this yatra. Those who are 40 plus and have cardiac risk factors can end up with heart pain or heart attacks on the way and those who are not fit can end up with exhaustion and fainting episodes on the way. Any unaccustomed walk if taken without medical supervision can be dangerous.
Why Chant Bol – Bam
a. The word Bam is a short name for Lords Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh. The letters BA came from Brahma and Vishnu and M came from Mahesh.
b. “Bam Bam Bhole” or “Bol Bam” is a long efficacious mantra (a hymn). When it is chanted during the way, it generates energy and enthusiasm amongst the kanwarias and gives them the psychological strength to carry on walking and succeed in covering the long distance. According to the Skand Purana, those who complete the holy journey by reciting Bam-Bam obtain the virtues of Ashwamedha Yajna (the one done to control the senses).
c. Scientifically any chanting, which ends with a nasal consonant (MMMMMM) produces tranquility of the mind by producing delta activity in the EEG. These are also weeping sounds.